“HeLa Cells 50 Years On: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” (2002), by John R. Masters
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Published in 2002, prostate cancer researcher John R. Masters authored a review article HeLa Cells 50 Years On: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly that described the historical and contemporary context of the HeLa cell line in research in Nature Reviews Cancer. The HeLa cell line was one of the first documented immortal cell lines, isolated from cervical cancer patient Henrietta Lacks in 1951 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. An immortal cell line is a cluster of cells that continuously multiply on their own outside of the original host. Though the HeLa cell line has contributed to many biomedical research advancements such as the polio vaccine, its usage in research has been controversial for many reasons, including that Lacks was a Black woman who did not knowingly donate her cells to science. In the article “HeLa Cells 50 Years On: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” Masters describes that, despite the benefits of the HeLa cell line, it has caused significant negative impacts on research due to its propensity to contaminate other cell lines, which can potentially invalidate research findings.